The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) has thrived on Earth for 67 million years. It spends most of its time under ground. So many other species use its abandoned burrows like burrowing owls, snakes and badgers that it has become a keystone species in the Mojave and Sonoran desert ecosystems. Where thousands of tortoises once lived in peace, a network of roads, ORV trails & open areas, livestock allotments, and mines now dominate the landscape pushing the tortoise toward extinction. Disease related to human caused stress is also taking a heavy toll.

Daniel PattersonThe desert tortoise has been at the epicenter of the Center Biological Diversity's campaign to save the CDCA from livestock grazing, road proliferation, mining, inappropriate off road vehicle use and other desert abuses. A series of legal actions brought against the BLM and the National Park Service has resulted in the closure of the largest mine within the National Park system, the banning and limitation of livestock on millions of acres of tortoise habitat, and the closure of 4,500 miles of roads.

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
July 3, 2003
Go back